Fox News, which is still facing several upcoming lawsuits, saw Tucker Carlson as a "lightning rod," that had to be let go, Bill O'Reilly, who for years was the network's nighttime star before parting ways with the company in 2017, said Monday night.
"There are a number of lawsuits going to be filed shortly against the Fox News' board of directors," O'Reilly said on his "No Spin News" program. "Fox News stock was down big today, so FNC is aware those lawsuits are coming. The board of directors themselves, the individuals sitting on the board, [they're] going to have to defend themselves. That's big."
O'Reilly pointed out that the next lawsuit coming is from Smartmatic, the voting machine company suing Fox News for $2.6 billion.
"This Smartmatic company only had one county in the 2020 election where their machines were used, so they're suing for $2.6 billion," he said."That's just insane. They'll settle, I believe, with Fox, but for not nearly what Dominion got, but that's an opinion of mine."
But with everything that is happening, "destructive Tucker Carlson is the lightning rod," O'Reilly said.
There is also the likelihood that there will be a lawsuit coming from Ray Epps, the Jan. 6 protester who has called on Carlson to retract claims that he was a secret government agent who had been working with the federal government to provoke violence during the attack on the Capitol, O'Reilly noted.
Epps, who was on CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday night, told the audience "that Tucker Carlson ruined his life," said O'Reilly. "That was a pretty strong assertion on '60 Minutes,' and when I saw it, I said 'Oh, here comes the lawsuit against Tucker Carlson and Fox News from Ray Epps.'"
According to "60 Minutes," Carlson focused on Epps more than 20 times on his program, including a half-dozen times this year. Epps told the program, which aired the night before Carlson was let go from Fox, that the now-former top-rated host was "obsessed with me. He's going to any means possible to destroy my life and our lives."
Meanwhile, Don Lemon, who was fired by CNN on Monday, was a "lightning rod" like Carlson, although he was fired over his ratings, said O'Reilly.
"Tammy Wynette is not part of television news," said O'Reilly. "None of those operations are going to stand by their man. When the going gets rough you're going to get thrown right overboard, no matter who you are. That's the way American corporations work."
And, he said, "if the corporation feels you are a deterrent in any way, and it's more than you're bringing in, it's not worth it."
O'Reilly said he assumes Fox will have to pay out Carlson's contract "the way they had to pay mine out," so he assumes Carlson will leave "with a nice piece of change."
However, that won't "mitigate the turbulence in his life," said O'Reilly. "I don't even know if he knows what the inner decision-making was but this will have a tremendous effect on the future of the Fox News Channel."
O'Reilly also said Monday that there are "many of the people that I trained at Fox News who now run shows at the Fox News Channel," so he gets information, and he has learned that it was a "shock to Tucker Carlson and his staff" to find out their show was being canceled.
"They were putting together tonight Monday night's program," said O'Reilly. "They were actively involved with making the rundown as all of us do who go on television each night to talk to you. In the middle of that, boom. Tucker Carlson is history at the Fox News show. That's how fast it came."
O'Reilly added that his information is "in stone" and "not speculation."
O'Reilly for years held the 8 p.m. spot on Fox News, averaging nearly 4 million viewers a night. He was forced out at Fox in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment, with Carlson becoming a star after taking over the former top star's prime-time spot.
O'Reilly said Monday that when Carlson took over the program, "he lost about a million of my viewers" before making a "shrewd decision" to attract more viewers from the committed right."
"Tucker Carlson himself is a smart man and a talented broadcaster," said O'Reilly. "Anybody who thinks he isn't is a fool. I mean, he knows what he's doing on television."
But by doing that, O'Reilly said that Carlson's "commentary became in many cases conspiratorial."
"You can make a lot of money doing that, and there's nothing wrong with doing that, as long as you tell people 'this is my opinion. It's speculation, but this is what I think,'" said O'Reilly. "There's nothing wrong with that. I don't disparage that. I'm a hard news guy. My opinions are based on facts, but the conspiracy industry is huge."
Carlson, he added, had a "very successful run at Fox" where he was influential among committed conservatives, but at the same time, Fox News has changed "dramatically" from the tightly structured operation run by Roger Ailes.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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